Nnamdi Ehirim, Tope Folarin make the VCU Cabell first novelist award longlist

Nnamdi Ehirim

The Coronavirus pandemic has turned all our news cycle into a round the clock barrage of perilous content, so much so that it would be easy for us to miss that a lot of great things are also happening for young Nigerians in creative disciplines. This week, the Virginia Commonwealth University announced its 20 writer long list for its first novel award.

The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award honors an outstanding debut novel published in the preceding calendar year. Symbolized by a three-dimensional compass, the award is a tribute to writers who have navigated their way through the maze of imagination and delivered a great read, taking the reader someplace new.

Winning novelists have written books that may be funny or sad, sarcastic or heartrending, but each is powerful enough in its own way to have moved initial readers and final judges toward the conclusion that, among a field of roughly a hundred submissions annually, its writer has achieved something notable and enduring.

Not one but two Nigerians are longlisted for the VCU this year, Nnamdi Ehirim, author of subversive political novel ‘Prince Of Monkeys’, and Tope Folarin who was previously known for being the first African in the diaspora to win the Caine Prize and is currently nominated for his debut novel ‘A Particular Kind of Black Man’.  To see Ehirim and Folarin continue the tradition of excellence that authors like Akweke Emezi and Oyinkan Braithwaite have started is the kind of good news we need in these strange times.

Good luck to Nnamdi Ehirim and Tope Folarin, we’re rooting for you both to bring the trophies home.

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